The MAKE IT. MSP. initiative was launched in 2015 to improve the Greater Minneapolis-Saint Paul (MSP) region’s performance attracting and retaining talent. While the region’s performance improved over the next five years, this prompted a bigger question for the initiative’s partners: What is our long-term ambition?

In 2019, these MAKE IT. MSP. partners worked to set a new 2030 ambition: to make the Greater MSP region one of the Top 10 metro regions in the U.S. at both attracting and retaining talent. Realizing this ambition would require sustained improvement, with thousands more people relocating to MSP each year and thousands more choosing to stay in MSP each year.

Then, the year 2020 ushered in a global pandemic, leading us to reimagine how and where we work. Local and national movements to advance racial equity and justice led organizations and communities to reimagine other systems, as well. When the new MAKE IT. MSP. Leadership Council convened for the first time this past summer, they considered these developments and how they might shape the priorities of this initiative. The council included leaders from business, real estate, government, tourism, media, higher education, business & civic organizations, and professional associations.

The council engaged more than 150 additional partners to establish goals for this talent attraction and retention initiative over the next 3 years. By focusing on a handful of transformational efforts, we believe the region can move towards this larger 2030 ambition. Ultimately, the council landed on two priorities: 1) Increase the number of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) promoted at MAKE IT. MSP. partner organizations; 2) Grow the rate of new graduates who accept jobs within the MSP region.

Increase the number of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) promoted at MAKE IT. MSP. partner organizations

Over the previous five years, the MSP region improved its performance both attracting and retaining workers. In fact, net migration improved among white residents and BIPOC residents. However, a major gap persisted, with BIPOC residents significantly more likely to leave.

During 2019, the MAKE IT. MSP. initiative updated its “BE MSP” team survey, reaching hundreds of BIPOC professionals throughout the MSP region. The survey found that while migration was beginning to improve slightly, many people’s experiences living and working in MSP were not. Specifically, respondents pointed to a lack of BIPOC leadership within organizations, as well as unclear paths for advancement in their own organizations.

While people reported feeling more socially connected, they found those professional opportunities lacking. These results motivated MAKE IT. MSP. partners, and ultimately the Leadership Council, to prioritize the advancement of BIPOC in order to achieve greater retention in MSP among the region’s fastest growing communities.

Grow the rate of new graduates who accept jobs within the MSP region

During the first years of implementation, MAKE IT. MSP. partners developed a number of strategic priorities, including improving the conversion of students & summer interns into full-time residents and workers in the MSP region. The “MSP Campus” team introduced projects aimed at convincing more students to live & work here upon graduation. Partners worked with MSP-based colleges & universities, visited campuses in other Midwestern states, trained campus recruiters to promote the region, and developed partnerships with student and professional associations like the Society of Women Engineers.

However, there is greater opportunity to engage new graduates in MSP & around the country. People are always considering the next chapters in their lives and careers. With the rise of remote work, there are even more considerations. But there are few points at which people make decisions in large cohorts alongside their peers. Focusing on this specific stage in a person’s professional journey will help us prioritize our engagement efforts. We’ll use this opportunity to re-imagine what we mean by “new graduates,” as well – whether folks are completing an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, a graduate program, a skills bootcamp, or otherwise.

What’s next

This spring, partners from across the MAKE IT. MSP. initiative will develop the strategies and tactics that need to be deployed in the MSP region in order to make meaningful, measurable progress against those two goals.

Additionally, partners will consider how these strategies intersect with other collaborative efforts to attract and retain talent to Minnesota. For example, the Medical Alley Association, Minnesota Technology Association, and MBOLD food & agriculture coalition are focused on specific industry sectors. Companies in the Minnesota Business Coalition for Racial Equity are focused on opportunities to attract & retain Black team members in Minnesota. And the ConnextMSP initiative of the GREATER MSP Partnership will focus on re-imagining the early career system.


Follow along by subscribing to receive our Network News, where we will share periodic updates on the strategies and projects that will formally launch this summer.

Make It. MSP. is a trademark of GREATER MSP.
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BE MSP is a trademark of GREATER MSP.